Saturday, April 30, 2005

Quick Check-in

Shabbat is done, and so is Pesach. Nutritionally, things have been going well since Thursday. Had a planned chocolate splurge on Friday (85g of milk chocolate) which got out of hand slightly; I added a slice of Pesach chocolate chip cake. However, it didn't go further than that, and since my main issue at the momet is taking in enough calories, all's well that ends well.

I chopped veggies for a large salad (3 cucumbers, 2 tomatoes, 1 green onion, 1 green pepper), so I'm all set for the next 2 days or so. I went to the grocery store post-Shabbat and found that they have tuna on sale, 5 tins for 20NIS. I've started a grocery price book, so I know for a fact that 4NIS per tin is a good price.

I'm behind on my paper, but I willl hit it tomorrow in a big way.

Found out one of my flatmates will be leaving at the end of the year. His brother is getting married and he will move into the apartment that his brother is vacating. I should talk to my other flatmate about moving into that room, which is smaller and slightly cheaper than mine. Between the gym, eating well, and the fact that I will _have_ to buy new wardrobes next year, it may be the wise thing to do.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Day Three in the Gym

The gym was very quiet tonight; four dedicated people including me :-) . I expect it will be swamped on Sunday as many people use the end of Pesach as a trigger to start eating well and exercising; it's similar to the January rush in North America.

Day three of my program is hip dominant: first deadlifts, both regular and partial, then lying hamstring curls, and then single leg cable hip extensions, except that I do mine standing straight, with all the movement happening below the waist. This is all topped off with ab work. The workout was the easiest day thus far, but as Man-in-Charge said, next week we start training seriously.

In anticipation, I started taking fish oil capsules again. I brought some with me from Canada and they've been sitting in the closet, keeping my shelves healthy, no doubt. Fish oil capsules are available in Israel; pretty much everything is. Maybe I should look into finding kosher protein powder.

I got home from the gym and put in a load of laundry; see how organized this exercising business is making me?

Day Trip

No gym yesterday, as I was on an all-day tour of Gush Katif and only got home around midnight. I woke up early and packed food and bottled water to take with me: green and red pepper, whole wheat high fiber matzah, fruit. This was for snacks, so that I could eat every three hours. Lunch and a bbq dinner were included in the tour cost. For lunch I concentrated on the hard boiled egg whites and apples, avoiding the full-fat cheese, the sugar-laden jams, the chocolate spread and the fruit drinks. At dinner I had grilled chicken breast (excellent!) and two hot dogs (not so excellent), with a little ketchup. Not too shabby, and it bodes well for next week, when I go back to school and start packing my lunch every day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Legs. Weak.

Legs. Weak. That, folks, was the laconic comment of the man-in-charge at the gym during Tuesday night's leg session. Why yes, yes they are. That's what happens when you turn into a couch potato for seven months. Actually four months. While it was summer in Jerusalem I got a lot of walking done. Once winter hit, I turned into a Canadian polar bear and started hibernating.

I am entirely serious about the next comment: It was a joy to do squats again. We started with regular back squats, bar only, concentrating on keeping my back straight and my butt down. Then we did this diabolical variation where you come up two thirds of the way, pause, go down again all the way, pause, come up two thirds of the way... you get the idea. Leg press next, then a lying scissor-like single leg exercise which I can't find online, but which worked the top of my quads / hip flexors, and finally some ab work. If I understood the progression correctly, this week I'll be doing two sets of everything just to get the mechanics right. Next week we set the weights and do three sets, and the following week four sets, and finally, on some exercises, five.

Food was great all day, but sleep was not, a mere five hours. I'll work on that.

The Gym

I went to the gym last night. These are very preliminary impressions, but in the words of Annie, I think I'm gonna like it here.

The gym is smaller than Toronto gyms and the equipment is closer together. It is windowless since it is in a building basement. The evening clientele was about 90% male, 10% female, mostly Russian-speaking. I should learn a few phrases in Russian, they might come in handy. "Thank you" and "Excuse me" I can find on the web, but does anyone know how to say "May I work in?" or "Go right ahead I'm done" in Russian?

There seems to be a refreshing lack of ego and spandex in this gym. While I was warming up I saw a guy do a set of gorgeous bent-leg good mornings. He was using very little weight but the tempo was precise and the form was absolutely perfect. As far as I could tell, everyone was there to work, not kibbitz, and _everyone_ re-racked their weights after using them.

Cardio-wise, there are treadmills but I haven't seen anyone on them yet. A couple of people were doing a circuit by stepping quick on and off a raised step sideways; it's hard to describe, looked like an agility/footwork exercise for boxers. One guy was doing it while hoisting a medium size heavy bag.

The Man-In-Charge had my program ready for me. The overall goal is to improve bench press, squat and deadlift technique. The first day is bench-focused. I started off with a warm up set of just the bar, then added weight for two sets of 8. I will be doing five sets of this, with a varying rep scheme I haven't quite figured out yet. Last night I did three sets because I was pressed for time; I got there at 7:50pm and the gym closed at 9:00pm due to Chol Ha-Moed. After the BP I did pushups leaning on the bar of the Smith Machine. Soon on the floor, I hope. I've gotten so damn weak.

The pushups were followed by close grip bench presses, then by seated external rotations for the infraspinatus. No, I didn't know that off the top of my head. I went and looked through until I found what the heck it was. See here, just imagine it seated, with an EZ curl bar instead of dumbells, both arms at the same time, and with a more limited range of motion, chest to chin. The reason I didn't ask the MIC is that he helps everyone in the gym, not just me, and I didn't want to take up his time with silly questions I can answer myself with minimal research. After this I did a floor exercise for abs. I think there's a second ab exercise that we didn't get to, but I was pretty wiped by the end of the workout. In conclusion: it was fun to move weights again, and I am going to be so sore tomorrow...

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Right Direction

That would be down... :-) 2 Kg down, to be precise, a.k.a 4.4 lbs.

I woke up at 8:30am, having slept through my 7:00am alarm. I got my things together and made it to my 9:00am WW meeting. Attendance was sparse, unsurprisingly. We are in the middle of the Jewish holiday of Pesach, and many people have vacation during this time. I knew I lost weight this week, but I wasn't sure how much. Group leader was much impressed. Most people gain weight over Pesach. I haven't told her that I'm not actually following the WW points thing, but that I am using the weekly meetings as a mental check-in. The loss isn't quite as big as it seems, because I normally have breakfast before the meeting, but today I had no time to eat before running out the door.

Now, why am I down 2 Kg? Part of it was the pre-Pesach cleaning frenzy and running around. I did a lot of walking, and while I was cleaning the windows of the apartment I felt like the Karate Kid (dear God is that movie really over 20 years old?); wax-on, wax-off... I drank tons of water. We had some very hot days here in Jerusalem, so that wasn't difficult. My veggie consumption is way up. I ate veggies before going to the Seder (festive holiday dinner) and I responded with a good-humoured-yet-firm NO when my host tried to get me to eat more. Basically, host wanted all the guests to eat more so that he wouldn't have to store the food. I pointed out to him that his storage issues are not my problem. He's a bachelor, btw, he has _nothing_ in the fridge.

After the meeting, I went to buy groceries. The supermarket looks very interesting during Pesach, as all the non-kosher-for-Pesach food has been covered up, and only the kosher-for-Pesach food is accessible. I re-read Berardi's Kitchen Part I yesterday, just to keep my mind on healthy food. I got eggs, green tea, walnuts, cheese... I can't have oatmeal during Pesach, but I found a whole wheat high fibre matzah (5.4g of fibre per matzah). This is going to be my healthiest Pesach ever.

I also have a new goal. My birthday is May 22, and I want to be at 165lbs by then.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Lies, Damned Lies, and Fat Lies

Over at Tech Central Station, an excellent article by John Luik about obesity and health:
But in a study released this week by the CDC and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association ("Excess Deaths Associated with Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity"), the public health community has finally owned up to their massive fib by acknowledging that the number of deaths due to obesity in the US is closer to 26,000 not 400,000 as previously reported.
Read the whole thing. (Found via Instapundit.)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Mich Sighted in Gym!

The nostalgia must have done it, because yesterday I went to the gym and registered for the three month membership. Today, despite doing a lot of walking and Pesach cleaning, I went in for my first day. Guy in charge asked me what my goals were, and when I told him that I wanted to get stronger he calmly inquired if I meant overall, or if I wanted to work on my squat, deadlift and bench press technique. It was a tough decision, but I said the latter, because I've been wanting to work on my technique for a long time. So he had me do some exercises to evaluate where my weak points are, and he'll have a program ready for me on Monday. (Gym is closed this Saturday because it is the Jewish Sabbath, and closed this Sunday because it is the first day of the Jewish holiday of Pesach). I am excited. I expect to wake up sore tomorrow just from the 10 sets or so I did tonight, but I am actually looking forward to it...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Nostalgia Moment

In an attempt to reconnect with my inner gym-going self, I've decided to dig up a piece I wrote last year when my trainer went on vacation and I went to an unfamiliar gym for ten days.

10 Days Without a Trainer

On Tuesday, July 13, my trainer R. left for a vacation. I could train at his facility with the guy who is taking over his clients for the duration, but I want to see how I'd do on my own. In less than a month I move to Jerusalem to pursue an M.A. at Hebrew University. I won't have a trainer, and I don't even know if I'll find a gym with a squat rack. So I purchase a ten-pass package from a different gym in downtown Toronto and hope for the best.

Day 1: Wednesday, July 14, 2004
As I ride the bus to the new training facility, I read through my training log. I should be able to do this program with my eyes closed. I am going in mid-morning, avoiding the morning and the lunch crowd.
I am working on a five day split: Ham dominant, Pull, GPP, Quad dominant and Push. Today is Pull. I head over to the free weights area to start with bent-over bb rows. There are some friendly guys in the free weight area but no one is using the squat rack. I load the bar for the warm up set and discover that there are no locks. I learn later that the design of the bar and weights is such that they don't slide readily, but for now, having no locks makes me nervous. I can't quite get into my groove. My reps are down, so I do extra sets instead. I try to calm down. Between sets I realize that there is no clock on the wall, and I am not wearing a watch. I improvise by using my cd walkman to time my rest periods.
I move on to supinated pull-downs. After my first set a skinny woman asks if she can use the machine. I say sure, and she hogs the machine for two sets of 20 reps, sitting on it between sets, and doesn't even replace it to my weight when she's done. Twit. I tell myself that this is just more motivation to lose weight and get to a point where I can do pull-ups; no one ever uses the chinning bar. I channel the annoyance into my next set. A man asks if he can work in a set. I say absolutely. He does his set quickly and efficiently and then puts it back to the weight I was using and says thank you. I like polite people.
I get through my workout without much trouble. I am not as focused as I am when R is there, but I'll just have to get over that. Some of my reps are down, and my single arm rows aren't as far back as I want them to be. But the point is, I am here, I made it in, and I got through my workout on my own. I finish up with cardio. If I can't exhaust myself doing weights, I can at least be diligent about the cardio. There's no Concept II Rower here, but there are ellipticals, recumbent bikes, and treadmills. I do my intervals on the recumbent bike. Above the machines is a flat screen TV showing movies. I watch the last twenty minutes of The Maltese Falcon while getting through my intervals.

Day 2: Thursday, July 15, 2004
Today would normally be GPP, but most of my GPP day exercises require a partner, and those that don't... well, I don't think anyone would appreciate it if I took a pair of heavy dumbbells for farmer's walk and dropped them on this gorgeous hardwood floor. So I decide to move on to Quad day instead. The friendly guys from yesterday are in the free weight area as I set up for squats. I do my warm up set. Not having locks is freaking me out. Every time the weights move a millimeter my concentration is shot. I load up for my work set and promptly manage six reps with a weight I had previously done for four sets of ten. Oh oh. I am beginning to think negative thoughts. Fortunately, one of the friendly guys picks this moment to come over, look at the bar and say "That's some serious weight". Buoyed by the compliment, I do another set. Form is not good - I'm not going as deep as I usually do. There's recurring pain at the top of my left quad, but it dissipates by the third set. By the time I get to my last set the friendly guys are gone. In fact, it seems everyone has either left or is on the cardio machines. I look around for someone to spot me for the last set and find one of the two gym owners. He points out that there is a mirror right to the side of the squat rack; if I look out of the corner of my eye I can actually see how deep I am going. Good point; wish I had noticed this earlier.
After the squats I go to get some water. No water. A plumber is doing some work in the men's change room, so there will be no water for an hour. That's the only minus I can see in working out while the gym is pretty empty.
I move on to ball squats: squats with a swiss ball between me and the wall. I do the first set way too fast. For the next set, I count out loud on the descent, visualizing R counting.
The leg press here is totally different than the one at R's gym. First, you're lying on your back with legs up in the air, perpendicular to the body. Second, there's no weight stack, you just add plates. My reps are too low again.
My last exercise is a plank. Halfway through, some woman (I don't know if she works for the gym or is just a nosy member) decides to adjust my form, telling me that my back is too arched. Excuse me? I don't care if you make comments, but keep your hands to yourself. Sweat is dripping down my face, and I don't turn my head so as not to break form. I can't see what she looks like and therefore can't find her afterwards to give her a piece of my mind. The good news is that I managed to hold the plank 1 second longer than last week. I take out my frustration on the cardio machine while watching Jaws on the flat-screen TV. By the time I am done with cardio the water is restored.

Day 3: Friday, July 16, 2004
I arrive at the gym a little later than usual, but it is still quiet. Today is Push day. I start off with DB presses on the Swiss ball. I can't get the reps I usually do, so I fall back on doing more sets with fewer reps. This week has just become my unofficial "strength" week. I've noticed that I'm the only person using a workout log. Still no stopwatch, but I am getting really efficient at using my cd player to time my rests. I move on to the incline BB press. I can't adjust the incline on the bench, and again there's the no locks issue. My first set is extremely disappointing. I could do 10 reps with this weight last week and now I manage four. Barely. Fortunately, the music comes to the rescue. Mama Told Me Not To Come, off the G.I. Jane soundtrack, comes on the loudspeaker. I do more short sets. On my last set I get stuck under the bar, damn. I sit up and roll it down to my hips, re-grip, stand up with it, turn around, and row it up to the rests. (It looked funnier than it reads, no doubt).
Next, db military press. I've exceeded my numbers for last week. Good. Next, close grip BP. After the experience with the incline bb press I am reluctant to push things. My triceps have a way of failing with little to no warning, and I am rather pleased with my face not caved in, thank you. I do shorter sets again. The way the tricep station is set up makes it impossible to do the seated incline tricep pressdown - there's no room to put a bench, or even a Swiss ball, for that matter. As I am thinking about tricep alternative, a guy takes over the tricep station to do single arm pressdowns. It's positively hilarious; he is looking at himself admiringly in the mirror throughout his sets, and in between sets he's using the bench press station for ab work. I decide to go do cardio instead. There is only one recumbent bike free, so I try the elliptical. 2 minutes and 37 seconds later I give up. "The smarter way to work out" my foot. I know it's supposed to be easier on my knees, but it feels like I'm hyper-extending them on every step. Back to the recumbent bike I go. The movie today is The Edge; Anthony Hopkins is fine but I can't stand Alec Baldwin, so I listen to Alannah Myles on my cd player instead. The time flies by. I consider extending my cardio after the next workout as I feel strong throughout (sweating like a pig, however). While on the bike I have my first celebrity sighting; a well known Canadian film director.
After changing back to my street clothes, I stop at the front desk to ask for the massage therapy price list. J the gym owner (who used to be my trainer before he moved on to open this facility) asks how my workout went. One of the best things about this fitness centre is that one or both of the owners are always around, and they pay close and serious attention to how things are going. He then says "Did I see you doing cardio?"
"Three days in a row," I say. J has a puzzled expression. Anyone I have ever trained with will tell you that I detest, abhor, and generally hate cardio with a passion. If R were here he'd probably have the same expression. "Listen," I continue, "If anyone had told me six months ago that I would be in the gym five times a week and doing cardio to boot, I would have told them that they're insane. I still might." J smiles and gives me the price list. I've decided that if I get into the gym all ten workouts, I'll treat myself to a massage on the last day.
Monday is Hamstring day. I hope the nosy chick from yesterday isn't there on Monday. My bent leg good mornings would probably give her a heart attack.

Day 4: Monday, July 19, 2004
Took the weekend off, but I did tons of walking, and the massive housecleaning and packing I'm doing ought to count as cardio. (No, I'm not really counting it as cardio.)
Got to the gym today and set up for Hamstring Dominant day. I proceeded to do the absolute worst set of deadlifts I Have ever done. Were R here, he'd point out that the negativity is not helping. At one point he said he'd get me to give him a quarter each time I said something negative about myself; talk about a get-rich-quick scheme. I redeemed myself somewhat on the bent-leg good-mornings, doing one warm-up and four work-sets. I was concerned that nosy person might walk by and point out that this is not how you do squats, but the only other people in the free weights area were also there to work out. I felt strong heading into the single leg squats on bench. I still keep too much weight on my forward leg, but it's definitely improving. The gym does not have a lying hamstring curl machine but a seated one instead. As a side effect of not doing the deadlift numbers that I usually do, I ended up doing the single leg curls with twice as much weight. Cardio again. I hope all this cardio is doing some good. I'm not weighing myself while R is away. I threw out my scale several months back.
My clothes are fitting way better. I had kept some clothes around from my lighter days, thinking that by the time I leave for Israel I would fit into them. I never considered that by the time I leave I would be too small for them...

Day 5: Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Pull day. I finally feel like I'm hitting my stride at the new gym. I know some faces, I know where everything is, and I began the day with bent-over rows that were a great improvement over last week. The moral of the story? Give yourself a week to settle in, and don't be alarmed if you have lousy numbers for awhile. Still no stop watch; I used my cd walkman again and was much more strict with timing my rest intervals. Lots of people working hard this morning, including a very pregnant lady whom I've seen here before, and a guy with an artificial arm which looks like the Ferrari of artificial arms - all black and orange and techie looking. The rest of the workout went well, the supinated pull downs, the single arm rows, the bicep curls... and I decided to bump the intensity level of my cardio. I did the intervals at a higher level and the rest period at a higher level. I was sweating buckets; thank goodness for the big towels this gym supplies. While reading my log afterwards, I realized I had done 17 worksets all together, one more than I wanted.

Day 6: Wednesday, July 21, 2004
I decided that I had to improvise and do a GPP day. Most of my GPP work requires a trainer/partner, so I used some exercises from a previous program. DB shrugs, horse, one arm db press, and incline curls while holding a 10lb weight plate. It went better than expected. I did a shorter workout, then got on the recumbent bike and did cardio. I only did eight work sets, but this day wins the prize for most sweat - my t-shirt was soaked. I do miss doing farmer's walk; it is the perfect way to end a GPP workout.
I continued my internet search for a Jerusalem gym and found one that does have a power cage (at least it looks like they do from the pictures on their web site). The bad news? Because they cater to the ultra-Orthodox community, the gym has separate hours for men and women. The women's hours are 8:00am to 12 noon, Sunday through Thursday. In other words, precisely when I'm at school. Sigh.

Day 7: Friday, July 23, 2004
Quads again. I seem to be hitting my stride now. I am very glad that I had this trial period because now I know that I need about a week in an unfamiliar gym to get into my groove. My squats are improving in both strength and depth. The pain at the top of my left quad seems to appear only when I pause. If I go up and down like a piston there's no pain. I had the free weight area to myself until the last set. A guy comes in to the free weight are and heads to the squat rack. Just before he starts stripping my plates off the bar, it dawns on him that perhaps the short fat lady (me) pacing back and forth in front of the squat rack is actually using the bar. So he stops and asks if I'm using the weight. I tell him that I have one more set. After I finish the set, I take the weights off one end of the bar and he takes them off the other end. As I leave the free weight area, I glance over my shoulder, curious as to what he will be squatting. He's standing in the rack curling the bar.

Day 8: Saturday, July 24, 2004
Push day. I have to find alternatives to the incline bb press and the close grip bench press. The gym does not have a power cage, which means I can't take these to failure without a partner. Today I saw one of the more interesting characters, Grunting Man. This guy comes into the free weight area and starts doing curls. First he does seated db curls, which he supersets with machine preacher curls. He follows this by doing e-z bar curls super-setted with cable curls. From time to time he changes his stand vis-à-vis the mirror to get a better idea of what he looks like. All these curls are accompanied by loud primordial grunts. If I didn't see him, I would have thought that some lady was inadvertently giving birth. To top it off, when he is not grunting he is chewing gum with his mouth wide open, looking rather like a Holstein chewing its cud. Fascinating.

I ended up not writing about Day 9 and 10, but I did do them, and booked a massage for day 10. The RMT (Registered Massage Therapist) was wonderful, and she gave me some stretches that took care of my quad pain and made my next squat workout much easier.

Gym in Reach

I walked home from the grocery store last night and stopped in at the gym to get information. I also wanted to time how long it will take me to walk from the gym to the apartment. I got the reg form (yay!) and today I am going to go there today and sign up for three months.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Week That Was

So I ate my way through most of this week, not recording anything, not paying attention, not drinking water, not eating veggies. Unsurprisingly, the weight is up.

I had to be in Tel Aviv this morning to pick up some things, so instead of going to the morning meeting I went to the afternoon one. The leader is the same for both. She said that most of the gain can be attributed to the fact that I was weighing-in in the evening rather than in the morning. I'm not sure she's right, because it was an awful week nutrition wise. Happily, one of the things I got was yoga flashcards. Somewhat less happily, I had a croissant for breakfast and cheesecake for lunch. I love cheesecake, especially the old fashioned baked Israeli cheesecake.

Yesterday I bought a scale [something I said I would not do]. It is a beautiful glass/metal contraption (as beautiful as a scale can be, I think) and it was also on sale for 119NIS. I decided that I need to track daily for a while, to see how my weight fluctuates over the month. Besides, it is nearly Pesach, and since I am not going to follow the holiday tradition and buy myself new clothes, I can at least buy myself something new that increases the probability of getting new clothes at some point down the line.

In the evening I went with my schoolmate M to see The Pacifier. It was amusing, and Vin Diesel is so easy on the eyes. :-) There was an unexpected bonus: the film was partly shot in Toronto, and I hadn't known this when we chose it. I kept recognizing bits of Toronto as it went on.

I did call the gym, although I chickened out at the last minute and did not go. It costs 790NIS for three months. Tomorrow I'll go in. Why am I dragging this out so much? What am I scared of?

[This post edited to add details and clarity.]

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Conversation With D

So I went to see the other apartment today. It is a 13 minute walk from Pardes, and that's at my slowpoke pace, obeying all traffic rules (meaning, no jaywalking). It is pretty. The room is big and airy. I went from there to the gym that is across the road, more or less. It was a five minute walk, if that. However, the gym was disappointing. Its main attraction is the pool, but there's no way that I would go swimming on a regular basis. I don't like swimming. The fitness room is small, and has treadmills, two bikes, a couple of weight machines (lat pull down, pec deck), a Smith machine and one bench. There is also a depressingly small collection of dumbells. So no go on the gym, which makes it hard to say yes to the apartment.

I was sitting at school today, reading the weight loss blogs listed there on the right. I check them all every day to see what's new. One of my classmates, whom we'll call D, comes by and sees what I am looking at, and asks if I am on a diet. I tell him that I don't do diets, but that I plan to start working out. Doing what? he asks. Lifting weights, I say. But that will make you bigger, he says.


Now D is a nice guy, who helps out his fellow classmates when they need it, so I remained polite while I told him that he was spouting 1970s nonsense. (I think I remained polite, at any rate). And he wants to lost weight. He says he has 30Kg to lose. I don't know if that's right, but it is certainly in the ballpark. Anyways, once I calmed down I sent him a couple of links about lifting, nutrition and motivation, including my fave motivational piece from T-Mag, Merry Christmas Bob.

I think I find fat men more incomprehensible than fat women. After all, men have all that extra lean body mass; that's like a special bonus from God, no? And their bodies don't hold on to a higher fat percentage for some future baby. Of course this is exceedingly unfair on my part, because both men and women have their own issues. It occurs to me that I should ask D if he wants to get together for a walk or a workout.

I was snippier with D than I normally would be because I was angry at myself. I made lousy food choices all day; it was the never-ending lousy carbohydrate festival today. And the water intake was... well, multiple oys on the oy vey scale. I redeemed things somewhat by going to the supermarket and getting milk and cottage cheese and some other stuff so that I can make lunch tomorrow.

In one sense the conversation with D was a good thing. Now I have to get my stuff together because, if I don't lose weight, then the credibility of what I told him and sent him is suspect.

Here's a promise for tomorrow. I will go to that gym I visited seven months ago, and if the price is what I remember it to be, I will sign up for a month. Just one month. And let's see what I can do.

Monday, April 11, 2005


Because of my dinner and lunch invitations over Friday and Saturday, I didn't read my usual stack of newspapers. I've also been swamped and tired, so it was only this afternoon that I found out, via the web, that Tiger Woods won his fourth Masters. Can I say how much I like this picture over at Yahoo? What intensity! And what a bicep!


I wonder if I'm just afraid of breaking 170 lbs, because that would mean that I've actually made a real commitment to losing weight. Unsurprisingly, I was up 600g this week, which is about 1.5 lbs, so I am at 78.6 Kg or 173.3 lbs. Ok. Back on the horse and let's try this again. I've created a progress details post that I will update from week to week, so that when I am finally at my goal [note the optimism] I can look back and say, hey, wouldn't it have made more sense to do this on a consistent downward trend, rather than up and down like an effing sine wave?

New goal: do not have two weeks of gain in a row.

Not a stellar start today; after the meeting I went to the pedestrian mall intending to pick up some sushi for lunch, so that I wouldn't eat a schnitzel at the university. Sushi guys were closed. I asked the store next door where his neighbour was. He said that sushi guys open at noon or thereabouts. I was annoyed on top of annoyed. I was annoyed at the topic of the WW meeting (motivation, and other people bugging you about your weight) and I was annoyed at sushi guy not being there. So I went and had ice cream and then a Kinder Country chocolate bar. Can we say dumb? Yup. As a doorpost.

Tomorrow I go and see the possible apartment for next year. It is across the road (more or less) from a gym. After I see the apartment I will go check out the gym too.

I walked home from Pardes (my other school) yesterday. Lots of little uphill stretches; I had music in my ears (KISS: Smashes, Thrashes and Hits, a cd that I used to love lifting weights to.) and I actually enjoyed the walk very much. The sun was shining and it was generally a lovely day.

I need to buy eggs and milk tonight, and pack lunch for tomorrow. We're having a special workshop and the school is providing lunch, which will undoubtedly be yummy and unhealthy.

Progress (and Regress) Details

Updated: September 26 2007

I was obese for about 20 years, from age 15 to 34. My heaviest recorded weight was 87.6 Kg / 194 lbs. I'm sure I was over 200 lbs at some point, but I didn't care enough to check.

After deciding to change careers in 2004, I exercised regularly from April to August 2004 and lost about 18 lbs or so. I stalled for awhile while studying in Israel, then in March 2005 I found an amazing gym, implemented some of the nutrition knowledge I already had, and got on track. By the time I returned to North America in July 2006, I was exercising six times a week and loving it (exercise details and nutrition details.) I was also at 140lbs.

Since August 2006 I have been living in Kansas, USA. There isn't a gym here that can compare to the gym I had in Jerusalem, and it took awhile for me to stop whining about it and find a new gym. I've stalled and gained 12 lbs. I'm currently reversing that. I think I'm at 150lbs at the moment, but have discovered that none of the floors in my apartment are straight enough to get an accurate scale reading.

The desired outcome of my renewed focus is a pullup-able, bench-press-able, double-squattable bodyweight of 123 lbs, which I picked because it's a pl weight class.

Height: 5'2" actually 5'1.75", but I pretend it's 5' 2".
Age: 37

The History

Progress while in Jerusalem
2005-03-28: 79.0 Kg / 174.2 lbs
2005-04-04: 78.0 Kg / 172.0 lbs (-1.0 Kg)
2005-04-11: 78.6 Kg / 173.3 lbs (+0.6 Kg)
2005-04-18: 79.5 Kg / 175.3 lbs (+0.9 Kg)
2005-04-25: 77.5 Kg / 170.9 lbs (-2.0 Kg)
2005-05-02: 77.5 Kg / 170.9 lbs (no change)
2005-05-09: 77.3 Kg / 170.4 lbs (-0.2 Kg)
2005-05-16: 76.3 Kg / 168.2 lbs (-1.0 Kg)
2005-05-23: 75.8 Kg / 167.1 lbs (-0.5 Kg)
2005-05-30: 74.8 Kg / 164.9 lbs (-1.0 Kg)
2005-06-20: 73.8 Kg / 162.7 lbs (-1.0 Kg)
2005-06-27: 73.5 Kg / 162.0 lbs (-0.3 Kg)
2005-07-11: 71.0 Kg / 156.5 lbs (-2.5 Kg)
2005-07-12: 69.7 Kg / 153.7 lbs (-1.3 Kg)
2005-07-19: 69.1 Kg / 152.3 lbs (-0.6 Kg)
2005-07-26: 69.0 Kg / 152.1 lbs (-0.1 Kg)
2005-08-02: 69.0 Kg / 152.1 lbs (no change)
2005-08-09: 68.4 Kg / 150.8 lbs (-0.6 kg)
2005-08-16: 68.4 Kg / 150.8 lbs (no change)
2005-09-07: 68.0 Kg / 149.9 lbs (-0.4 Kg)
2005-09-14: 67.3 Kg / 148.4 lbs (-0.7 Kg)
2005-09-28: 67.0 Kg / 147.7 lbs (-0.3 Kg)
2005-10-03: 66.4 Kg / 146.4 lbs (-0.6 Kg)
2005-12-20: 66.2 Kg / 145.9 lbs (-0.2 Kg)
2005-12-31: 65.0 Kg / 143.3 lbs (-1.2 Kg)
2006-03-22: 64.7 Kg / 142.6 lbs (-0.3 Kg)

Progress & Regress in Kansas
2006-08-20: 63.2 Kg / 139.3 lbs (-1.5 Kg)
2006-08-27: 62.4 Kg / 137.5 lbs (-0.8 Kg)
Another lengthy stall, and the result was...
2007-04-15: 67.7 Kg / 149 lbs (+5.3 Kg /+11.5 lbs) oy.
2007-04-22: 67.7 Kg / 149 lbs (no change)
A few weeks of hemming and hawing, and contemplating my upcoming birthday...
2007-05-23: 68.1 Kg / 150 lbs (+.4 Kg / +1 lbs)
2007-12-31: ??

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Night at the Theatre

Just came back from the Jerusalem Theatre, where I saw a production of Ivan Turgenev's "A Month in the Country". Unfortunately I did not get a program, so I don't know who all the excellent actors were. The woman who played Natalya Petrovna and the man who played Rakitin were wonderful.

WW Meeting tomorrow morning. More about it, and the play, then.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Thursday Already?

I was supposed to see the play Korczak's Children at Beit Shmuel this evening, but I changed my mind at the last minute. First, I am exhausted (up till 1:10am last night), and second, someone else wanted the ticket. I have two invitations for Shabbat, one for Friday night dinner and one for Saturday lunch. I only discovered today that both are vegetarian. Oh well. I knew that the Saturday host was veg, but the Friday night hosts just said that they would be serving "low-carb" food. I assumed, erroneously, that this meant meat. Apparently not. Still, it was very sweet of them to invite me. I'm just going to eat some hard boiled egg whites before I leave the house.

There's a line in Heinlein's Starship Troopers: "Happiness consists in getting enough sleep." Yup. And I am not getting enough. Next week's goals: water, sleep and veggies.

On Tuesday I am going to look at a new apartment. My current apartment is great, and my flatmates are sweet, but I want to be closer to school, and the apartment I am going to visit is a seven minute walk from school. It's also more expensive, so I have to put all the data into a spreadsheet and crunch the numbers. If I do move, it won't happen till September, since my contract at my current place ends Aug 31.

Today was not a good day for H2O, eating, or anything else. I only packed some cottage cheese for my 11:00am meal. At 1:30 we had Community Lunch, which involved some pretty heavy macaroni and cheese and rice crispy squares for dessert, washed down with Coke and Sprite. Then I didn't eat again till I got home at 7:00pm. Needless to say, I was starving, and after inhaling some sushi I proceeded to eat two cups of Honey Nut Cheerios. I was still annoyed, and was planning to go to the corner grocery store to get some Milky (chocolate dairy treat with whipped cream on top), but then fate intervened in the form of the young man who cleans the stairs in our building. I heard him start washing the entrance and stairs, and decided it wouldn't be nice of me to go to the corner store now and then step all over the just-cleaned floor. So I stayed home instead and got more productive. I put in a load of laundry, boiled eggs for tomorrow, and cooked artichokes.

I have a huge to do list for tomorrow, so tonight I want to be in bed by 11:00pm.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Tired Tuesday

I need sleep. 12 hours uninterrupted would be perfect. It will have to wait till Friday, however.

Good job on the H2O today; almost three litres. A pretty good food day, too. This morning I had to make a decision: I could take the time to eat breakfast and pack lunch, which would make me late and necessitate a cab to school, or I could skip breakfast and forget about making lunch, and make it to the bus on time. I decided to splurge for the cab. It's about priorities.

Taking lunch isn't really enough: if I am going to be at school from 8:30am to 5:00pm I need to pack at least three meals: 11:00am, 2:00pm and 5:00pm. That way I will have the energy to walk home and to not destroy the fridge when I get there. I need a bigger lunch box, or a bigger backpack. Fortunately, right next to the school (not to Hebrew U; I am studying concurrently in two different places) is a supermarket. I went there at noon and bought a yellow pepper, two tomatoes, an apple and some bread. From home I brought cottage cheese and hard-boiled eggs, and in my locker at school I have natural peanut butter and strawberry jam.

Tomorrow I am at Hebrew U all day. On the way home this evening I went downtown and got sushi for tomorrow's breakfast. I think that as long as I am losing weight I will continue the Wednesday sushi breakfast thing. It makes me feel very satisfied, it helps me not miss the coffee+bagel habit, and it reminds me of Toronto. I only discovered sushi when I was 30. Great stuff. I'd like to make my own, but I don't know the fishmongers here well enough to know who can be trusted for sushi-grade tuna and salmon.

I found out today that my Tanakh [Hebrew Bible] chevruta [study partner] is going back to the US in June. I am going to miss him. He is a great guy, and a pleasure to study with. At some points he is very self-critical, which is strange to hear because I think to myself, "That must be what I sound like when I start doing the negativity thing; not good."

Last year, when I was working out with a trainer back in Toronto, there was one leg day when he told me to do a squat weight I hadn't done before. Jokingly, channelling The Princess Bride, I said to him "Get used to disappointment". Well, trainer had never seen The Princess Bride, and he hit the roof. "What kind of self-defeating statement is that? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I know you can do at least ten reps with this weight..." He had a point. It had never occured to me how negative that line is, divorced from its movie source.

It's almost 10:00pm here and I need to be asleep by 11:00pm if I want to wake up tomorrow at 6:00am. Good night all!

Monday, April 04, 2005

One Week Down

...and one kilogram lost. Stats are on the right, for the detail-oriented. It's a good start, and I am optimistic about seeing the underside of 170lbs next week. On the clothes side of things, I'm excited about the prospect of moving from the Old Navy 14 Short to the Old Navy 12 Short jeans that I brought from Canada with me. Not that they are really 12 or 14 or whatever, but who cares? It's about the general downward trend. I like the fact that Old Navy goes from size 0 to 26 (or thereabouts), something for almost everyone.

I haven't done any point counting, and don't plan to, but I make sure to drink water, and to not let myself get hungry. That means get food into my mouth every 3 hours come hell or high water. So even if some of that food was chocolate or cheerios, most of it was veggies, cottage cheese, tuna, etc., and so the overall totals were not out of line.

The meeting was funny in spots and mind-boggling in others. The main topic was shopping: avoiding buying things we don't need, distinguishing "need" from "want". One suggestion was to make a list and stick to it, another was to buy only the basics in the big supermarket, and visit your local grocery store for other items, so as not to be overwhelmed by the selection and marketing in the big supermarket. The mind-boggling part was a lady who said she lives on vegetable soups and salads. Yikes! I don't think the program has nearly enough emphasis on protein and good fats, but then again, neither do most dieticians and nutritionists. Maybe they'll figure it out in ten years or so.

I still haven't made up the sleep I lost last week, and it is taking its toll. Weather has been very cold and rainy, but we should be up to 21C (69F) on Wednesday, and then to 26C (77F) on Thursday. The sooner the better! Being cold in Jerusalem is unlike being cold in Toronto. Houses here don't have central heating, so it feels so much colder and more miserable. And the temperature drops drastically at night. Tonight is going to be a measly 4C (39F). Funny thing is, I'm still getting my Jerusalem weather from a Canadian web site.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Trying to Fix Things

I am adding links and tinkering with Blogger's lovely template, and making things not work... please be patient!

One Down

At 6:00am I stopped typing and printing, and at 7:15am I was at the university to drop off the paper in the prof's mailbox. I know it is not the best paper I have ever written, and I also know that if they had given me the extension I had requested I could have done a much better job. However, at least it is done and I can move on to the next paper.

I resisted the urge to celebrate by buying a humungous Israeli breakfast at a restaurant downtown, and instead went to the supermarket (Mr. Zol, which means Mr. Cheap in Hebrew) and bought Cheerios, milk, cottage cheese in little 100g containers that oh so convenient to take everywhere and canned mushroom pieces. Israeli breakfasts are serious: eggs, salads, an assortment of cheeses, bread, juice, lattte... there's much to be said for them, but the breakfast can wait.

Now all I need is sleep, and in the afternoon I will go to the market and stock up on artichokes. WW meeting tomorrow morning, and it will be interesting to see what all that chocolate hath wrought...

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Today's Damage

Today I ate: two cucumbers, an artichoke, an orange pepper, cottage cheese, cheerios with milk and a banana. And over 800 calories worth of chocolate. Milk chocolate, which I don't even like. Sigh.

It's not done yet; it's 10:30pm here, and I am going to be working through the night on this paper.

Friday, April 01, 2005


I changed the blog template to reflect Jerusalem date and time. Also changed the comment settings so that registration is not required for commenting. I've been reading several weight loss and fitness blogs over the past month, and I'm going to add links to them shortly. I'll also add links to other blogs I enjoy reading on a regular basis.

Went to the shuk and picked up red peppers, cucumbers, apples and artichokes. I have a craving for artichokes, and they're good cold or warm, which means that once they're cooked, I can pack them for lunch. On the way I realised that I forgot to eat lunch before leaving the apartment, so I stopped and picked up some sushi, and washed it down with persimmon juice. Yes, persimmon. There's a little juice bar at the corner of Ben Yehuda and King George Streets that makes fresh fruit juices for you on the spot. I felt like something a little more interesting than carrot or orange. I checked out the price of a bathrobe. A long hooded terrycloth one will run me 185NIS, with one word embroidered free. I thought about having GW=130 embroidered on it, but decided to wait and check out the other stores because the store didn't have red or black. The only colours they had which I liked were burgundy, dark green and bright fuschia.

On the way back I sat down at a cafe on the midrachov and had an "ice cafe", which is really coffee slush. I had bought the bus pass after all, but I decided to walk home. So I put in the earphones, turned on the discman, and marched home to the music of Shania Twain. The thing about the bus pass is that it is not only a convenience but also a statement. It says: "I am not afraid of scumbag suicide bombers who blow up buses, and I will continue to take buses as long as I live in Jerusalem". While at the cafe I did some work on the paper, too.

48 Hours

48 hours left to finish the paper; I am planning to drop it in the profs' mailbox first thing Sunday morning. Sunday is a regular business day here.

I didn't get much done last night; I was a bit drained after the Yad Vashem visit. I stayed up too late, and on top of that the clocks were moved forward last night as we swtiched to daylight savings time, so I lost an hour of sleep. Also slipped on the water: 1.3 litres only for the day.

I bought a printer yesterday morning, the HP PSC 1315. I'm not usually so decisive so quickly. I can stretch a purchase out for weeks while I look at different things and check out more stores and more models, and even continue to look after I made the purchase. I think this is a result of how I (as a fat woman) shop for clothes. It's all about "What if I gain weight... maybe I should wait till I lose weight... it's too expensive... it is flattering... it isn't flattering...maybe I'll find something else...what are the odds that I'll find something else..." and similarly idiotic thought bubbles. So I am pleased that, having decided to buy the printer on Wednesday, I checked three stores and completed the purchase and then unpacked, installed and printed something by Thursday.